CNN Anchor Reads Stanford Rape Survivor’s Letter Live On Air [Video]

Brock Allen Turner, the Stanford swimmer who raped a young woman at a frat party, received an extremely light sentence for the sex crime he committed, various media outlets have criticized the judge in the case for letting Turner off light. Turner’s father made some inflammatory statements in the courtroom, referring to the sexual assault as “twenty minutes of action,” but we haven’t heard much for the survivor of Turner’s brutal assault.

Until today. CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield took to the airwaves this morning and did something unprecedented: she read the entire text of the Stanford rape survivor’s victim impact statement, a letter the victim wrote to her attacker, Brock Allen Turner.

“I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster,” Banfield said, reading the words of Turner’s victim.

Turner’s victim went to a party in January, 2015, and woke up the next morning covered in dried blood and bandages.

The Stanford survivor’s letter goes on to describe the trauma she endured after the sexual assault, the media coverage, the subsequent damage to her self-worth and her emotional and physical health. Ashleigh Banfield’s unprecedented move today put the words of the Stanford survivor before millions of CNN viewers. BuzzFeed did much the same, publishing the full text of the letter online.

“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today,” Banfield began.

Brock Allen Turner was convicted of rape, a court of his peers found him guilty of three felonies, including sexual assault. Turner raped a young woman at a frat party, who was too drunk to consent, and because of his promising life of privilege a judge decided he should only see six months inside a county jail. During the course of the trial Turner never once admitted guilt, nor any wrongdoing.

“I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol,” Banfield said, reading the words of the Stanford survivor.

Banfield became emotional at a few points throughout the testimony, tearing up and taking a breath when the Stanford survivor’s words became difficult to read. The Stanford survivor’s letter was powerfully worded, and drove home the very real consequences of Turner’s actions, reports the Huffington Post.

“The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up,” Banfield continued, reading the Stanford survivor’s letter.

“Lastly you said, ‘I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life,’ ” Banfield said, the survivor quoting Turner’s own defense, “A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you. I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect.”

Brock Allen Turner was sentenced to six months in a county jail for a brutal sexual assault, but because the judge decided that he was not a “danger to others,” the maximum sentence of 14 years was foregone in favor of a sentence on par with that of a misdemeanor DUI. In a way, according to Salon, the judge agreed with Turner’s father, that committing a sexual assault – forcing yourself on an unconscious victim for your sexual gratification – should not be punished harshly if the aggressor has a promising life ahead of them.

[Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival]

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